The MLB hot stove is already heating up and that officially kicks off the season of shaky rumors and hairbrained ideas that are silly until they aren’t. Well, MLB.com started things off with a list of every team’s biggest needs, including the Mariners.
Now to nobodies surprise, MLB.com listed the Seattle Mariners’ biggest need as the starting rotation. In the short blurb, they said this:
"Félix Hernández, Wade LeBlanc and Tommy Milone are all free agents, leaving some holes in Seattle’s rotation behind Marco Gonzales and Yusei Kikuchi. Up-and-comers Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn could fill two of those spots, though it’s no lock that both will be ready to do that out of Spring Training. It should be noted that GM Jerry Dipoto tends to prefer the trade market to free agency."
The author of the article, Mark Feinsand, then listed 2 players as potential targets for the Mariners: Michael Pineda and Jeremy Hellickson. Pineda shouldn’t come as much of a surprise and would be a welcome addition to the rotation.
The idea is so popular on our website that our own Aaron Chantler already wrote about the idea. But the second name on the list may be just as interesting and may actually make a bit more sense. Jeremy Hellickson who once pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays, Philadelphia Phillies, and most recently, the Washington Nationals, is set to hit free agency this winter.
The right-handed pitcher turns 33-years-old in April, only threw 39 innings in 2019, missing most of the season with shoulder issues. He has struggled to stay healthy recently but was quite good in 2018, when he threw 91.1 innings of 4.22 FIP baseball with a sub-2.0 BB/9, good for a 1.3 fWAR.
You have to go all the way back to 2016 to find a productive, healthy season for Hellickson when he threw 189 innings with a 3.98 FIP and a 3.4 fWAR for the Phillies. Hellickson will likely look for a one year contract that will allow him to compete for a rotation spot to hit the market again next winter, making the Mariners an appealing spot for him.
Whether or not the Mariners would be interested in Hellickson is up in the air but he would seem to fit the mold of an “opportunity buy” that Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto has told the media he will be looking for this winter.
Many more pitchers will be linked to the Mariners this off-season but as arms go, Hellickson certainly falls into the grouping just below the Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello group being thrown around this winter.